UIC Athletics to Add Women's Soccer as Varsity Sport|
Nov. 15, 2012
CHICAGO - The University of Illinois at Chicago will introduce women's soccer as a varsity sport, Athletic Director Jim Schmidt announced Thursday. Schmidt also announced the hiring of UIC men's soccer alum Brian Rigby as the program's first head coach of the program, pending Board of Trustees approval.
Rigby will have nearly two years to recruit and formulate a roster before the Flames play their first game in the fall of 2014. UIC will play its home matches at Flames Field, the current home of UIC men's soccer.
The initiative is another step in UIC's commitment to provide further opportunities for women. The athletic department also added women's golf as a varsity sport in 2010 - the Flames wrapped up their first-ever competitive season last spring.
"We are thrilled to be able to add another women's program to our varsity sports lineup," said Schmidt. "I want to thank our University Administration, in particular Chancellor Paula-Allen Meares, for her full support in this vision.
"When we surveyed the student population at UIC, there was overwhelming support for women's soccer," Schmidt added. "Additionally, we have had many requests from the high schools to provide opportunities for women's soccer. We're excited about bringing this new program to our university, the athletic department and the Chicagoland community."
With the addition of women's soccer, the UIC athletic department now sponsors all 10 Horizon League women's sports (basketball, cross country, golf, soccer, softball, swimming & diving, tennis, track & field (indoor and outdoor) and volleyball) and 11 overall.
Rigby, a long-time native of the Windy City, has deep soccer roots in Chicago. Most recently, he served as an Assistant Women's Soccer Coach at Loyola from 2007-11. The Ramblers captured the Horizon League Tournament Championship and advanced to the NCAA Tournament in 2007, and also won the League's regular season title in 2008.
"We had great interest in the head coaching position, ranging from former Division I head coaching candidates, to top-notch assistants at BCS schools," said Schmidt. "As the search went on, and the more people we talked to in the soccer community, Brian's name kept rising to the top. He really impressed us during the interview process. He has a great vision to build a program from the ground up, and we're excited about him leading our women's soccer program into the future."
Rigby is thrilled to re-join the UIC Athletics family, and is equally excited to get the program started.
"The opportunity to lead a start-up women's soccer program at my alma mater is something that is very special to me," said Rigby. "UIC means a lot to me. This university means a great deal to me - it gave me my education and it allowed me to meet my wife and start my family. Going to school and playing soccer here has given me the opportunity to stick around a great market, to coach both college and youth soccer and eventually, it prepared me for this great opportunity.
"The ability to come back, and provide the same opportunities to young women that were given to me is priceless. As an alum, as an ambassador of the game of soccer, and as someone who has lived in the area for many years, it's exciting and humbling to be selected as the person to lead the new era of women's soccer at UIC."
Rigby served in a similar capacity at DePaul from 2005-07, including a stint as the Blue Demons' Interim Head Coach from March-December 2006. He coached a pair of All-Region honorees during his tenure in Lincoln Park.
On the club circuit, Rigby's most notable experience has been with FC United Soccer Club in Glenview, where he has served as the Technical Trainer and Coach since 2008. His under-16 girls' team has been ranked as the No. 1 team in the state of Illinois, while his U-15 boys' squad has been ranked as high as No. 7 nationally. Since 2011, Rigby has guided FC United to a combined five tournament championships, including the club's first State Cup Championship in girls' soccer. The team was also a USYSA Region II semifinalist.
Rigby, who possesses six United States Soccer Federation National Coaching Licenses, was named the 2011 National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA) Regional Coach of the Year. He is also certified by the Illinois High School Association, has earned his United States Soccer Federation Amateur License, and was also a finalist for the NSCAA National Coach of the Year Award.
Rigby coached one Horizon League Player of the Year during his time at Loyola, and has also mentored three female players that have gone onto the professional ranks.
Rigby was a four-year letterwinner (1994-97) with the Flames, serving as a team captain in each of his final two seasons and collecting All-League honors in 1997. He graduated with a dual Bachelor's Degree in Marketing and Management from UIC in 1998. A native of Toronto, Canada, Rigby currently resides in Chicago with his wife, Amanda, and their daughter, Remy.